From Academic Kids

The word tribble can also mean a horizontal frame with wires stretched across it for drying paper.
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Tribbles are small, soft, gentle fictional animals in the Star Trek universe whose cute appearance and soothing purring endears them to every sentient race which encounters them—with two notable exceptions: Klingons and Vulcans. They are essentially small bundles of fur with no visible external features. Their only two purposes in life appear to be to eat, and to reproduce; they perform both of these functions extremely well. Their population on their homeworld is only kept in check by the abundance of reptiles.

The tribbles apparently derive from the Martian "flat cats" of Robert Heinlein's juvenile novel The Rolling Stones. Twins Castor and Pollux transport a cargo of flat cats in cold sleep to miners in the asteroid belt. Both tribbles and flat cats are born pregnant. Another possible inspiration for the story is the trouble that Australia had with imported rabbits, which overran the continent causing serious ecological damage, and which were finally controlled somewhat in 1951 by introducing the disease myxomatosis (see Rabbits in Australia).

Klingons are unique among Star Trek's races in their extreme hatred of these cute little creatures. This is because they were "ecological disasters" and emitted a loud shrieking noise in their presence (although the tribbles may just have been reacting to the sight of their enemy). The Klingons sent a fleet of their bravest warriors to hunt the tribbles to extinction.

Vulcans found no useful purpose for tribbles, so tribbles were not endearing to Vulcans.

The date of first contact with Tribbles has never been established in canon. Chronologically speaking, the earliest known appearance of Tribbles was in the 2003 Enterprise episode "The Breach" (which takes place in 2152) in which Doctor Phlox uses them as food for his medicinal pets in Sick Bay. They were presumably known by his race before this date, but most likely were unknown to humans.

Viewers first saw Tribbles in the 1967 Star Trek: The Original Series television episode "The Trouble with Tribbles", written by David Gerrold. The episode has been noted as one of the most popular episodes of the series, owing to its intelligent sense of humor. This episode was not, however, a depiction of first contact since it was a human named Cyrano Jones who introduced the tribbles to Captain Kirk's crew, indicating the creatures were known prior to the episode.

Tribbles return in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "More Tribbles, More Troubles", and they also make a brief reappearance in the bar scene of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

In Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" the crew of the USS Defiant encounter the Tribbles once more. Worf reveals that the creatures were actually hunted down and exterminated by his people - specially trained warriors were sent to kill every tribble in existence, and an armada of Klingon vessels obliterated the tribble homeworld. (Deep Space Nine Security Officer Odo drily remarks "Another glorious chapter in Klingon history. Tell me, do they still sing songs of the Great Tribble Hunt?") Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately depending on one's perspective, a number of tribbles were brought back to Deep Space Nine from the past and the species is reestablished. It is not known if this was deliberate or not, and it remains to be seen if repopulation was successful.

They also made a brief appearance on Jeopardy! in the mid-1990s when they were the object of a Daily Double answer. The tribbles appeared on host Alex Trebek's podium during the clue and then multiplied every commercial break, eventually covering the camera.

See also



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